The Views of Canadian Scholars on the Impact of the Anti-Terrorism Act


The original pool of potential participants in this project was developed from a list of participants in two national conferences on terrorism that had taken place during the fall of 2003. Consultations among Department of Justice Canada personnel in the Criminal Law Policy Section and the Research and Statistics Division yielded some additional individuals who had not attended these conferences but who had commented on the Anti-Terrorism Act or were known for their work on terrorism. The aim was to identify a diverse group of scholars from the following fields: law, political science, history, and conflict studies. Another goal was to identify a group of experts that was balanced in terms of their views toward the Anti-Terrorism Act.

This process yielded a list of 31 potential participants. These individuals were first contacted and invited to participate in this project by e-mail on December 15, 2003. This message contained the purpose of the project, broadly described the issues participants would be asked to address, the time lines, and other terms (refer to Appendix B). The invitation was sent a second time in early January, 2004 to those who had not responded to the initial message. A total of 15 scholars agreed to participate and these individuals were then sent a second message, describing in greater detail the questions they were to address and the terms of participation (Appendix C). One additional individual was approached once the project was underway and agreed to participate. In the end, 11 individuals submitted a response to the questions posed by the Department of Justice.

As the pool of potential participants did not constitute a probability sample (i.e., random selection did not occur), participants cannot be taken to be a representative sample of all Canadian scholars with expertise on the subject of terrorism. Furthermore, participation is ultimately based on self-selection and not determined by the researchers. While the views expressed by the participants do not necessarily represent the population of terrorism experts, efforts were made to recruit a group of experts who were diversified in their academic backgrounds and in their views on the Anti-Terrorism Act. Also, a respectable participation rate of about 35% (11 participated out of 32 contacted) was achieved.

A list of the participants, along with their professional affiliations, is provided in Appendix C. The list underscores the diversity of the participants, as they are drawn from law schools (4), international studies (2), conflict studies (1), programs in governance (1), political science (2), and history departments (2). One individual has a joint appointment in history and international studies. While there is some geographic diversity, the majority (7 of 11) are from universities in central Canada. Three of the participants are from the University of Toronto and two are from Queen's. Other central Canadian participants are from McGill and Carleton. Two participants are from west coast universities (Simon Fraser and Victoria), one is from the Prairies (Alberta), and one is from the Atlantic Provinces (New Brunswick).

Participants were asked to respond to the following three questions:

  1. What has been the impact of the Anti-Terrorism Act on Canada?
  2. What emerging trends in terrorism do you foresee and what threats do they pose to Canada? In discussing these trends and threats, please describe what you consider terrorism to be.
  3. How should our country respond to these trends and threats? Please feel free to include measures at any level, such as social, economic, political, and legal or a combination of these levels.

Participants were encouraged to offer their own opinions and observations, as well as to focus on those issues with which they were most familiar. They were asked to draw on their own expertise; thus, lawyers might have more to say about the impact of the Act on the administration of justice and political scientists might focus more on the political dimensions of the legislation. Participants were also told that their submissions would be appended to this report (Appendix A).

The chapters that follow contain a synthesis of the participants' written submissions.